2009 Genuine Rattler 110 Review

June 11, 2009
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

The Genuine Rattler 110 on display in Southern Oregon wine country.
The Genuine Rattler 110 offers a different option for scooter buyers with its 110cc air-cooled 2-stroke engine.

Chicago-based Genuine Scooters is making sure riders don’t live in a world without 2-strokes with its Rattler 110. After a recent day-long test ride, thanks to our friends at Southern Oregon’s Bike Barn, we can say one thing for sure: the Rattler is different. And while that isn’t the greatest story lead ever written, ‘different’ pretty well sums up the allure of the Genuine Rattler 110.

On our modern, near 2-stroke-less American roadways, the stripped down Rattler stands out. And with its zinging air-cooled, 110cc 2-stroke mill the Rattler should be a relatively potent scooter option compared to other small-displacement scoots. Yet the buzz of 2-stroke ownership fizzled aboard the Rattler as we test rode it side by side with the 150cc 4-stroke Genuine Buddy Black Jack.

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We expected the Rattler to get the performance edge on its Genuine sibling, but the truth became apparent during even modest road inclines, where the little 110 smoker struggled to maintain momentum. Real world top speeds (on level roads…) in the mid 50s are more than acceptable for the regular scooter domain of urban/suburban surface streets, yet the revvy nature of the 2-stroke meant that useable power was delayed getting from throttle to rear wheel via the CVT drive.

“Power delivery was nothing to write home about,” agrees fellow Rattler test rider and MCUSA graphic artist, Robin Haldane. “But it got the job done. I was able to scoot my way across the countryside at a reasonable 55 mph as long as I wasn’t trying to climb a hill where speeds dropped to about 40 mph.”

On the plus side of the Rattler 2-stroke ledger, there’s the sound of that ringing mill, eliciting a nostalgic response for many riders, particularly those who began their riding career in the dirt. Perhaps the more potent sensory stimulus aboard the Rattler is the acrid smell of 2-stroke smoke, another quirky intangible you won’t find on most scoots nowadays.

As you can see  the legroom is sorely lacking on the Rattler  which is clearly not built for riders over six-foot tall.Sharper turns than this require getting the knee out of the way  as the handlebar has no room to maneuver.
The cramped riding position of the genuine scooter doesn’t leave much room between the knees and handlebar for taller riders (top). In tight turns the bar would hit the knees, unless a rider came up with different options (bottom).

When it came time to switch scooters during our test ride, however, the Rattler was always picked last and the reason had less to do with the engine than with its tiny ergos. True, I may look slightly big, dumb and oafish, but my 6’1” 205-lb dimensions are far from atypical for an American male – yet I felt like a giant aboard the Rattler! Oddly enough, the Rattler’s 32-inch seat is on the tall side for a scooter. The blame rests at the high footboard area and the low-placed MX-like bar (strike that, BMX-like bar). Combined with the confined space between the seat and steering column and the result is a scooter with an awkward riding position and steering lock often created by the rider’s knees!

“Riding the little Rattler felt cramped when compared to other scooter models I have ridden,” says Robin, “there were several times where I hit my leg trying to steer.”

On the plus side, the Rattler’s suspension isn’t bad, featuring a telescopic fork and preload-adjustable rear shock. The over 200-lb weights of our test riders may have taxed the components, but they held up with surprising tenacity, more than adequate for a scooter application. The short 46-inch wheelbase makes for a quick turner, although the cramped legs and high seating position lend for a ride on the skittish side. The Rattler specs say it runs 10-inch wheels, but our front was a 12-incher. We liked the wide tires (120/90 front, 130/90 rear), which felt good on the road.

Braking on the Rattler comprises of a semi-useful front wave rotor and rear drum. The front stopper looks good, although we’d prefer a more bitey pinch from the two-piston caliper configuration. As for the rear drum… we mentioned earlier the Rattler’s power deliver wasn’t anything to write home about, but neither is the rear stopper – unless the letter reads: “Dear Ma, The rear drum brake on this here scooter don’t work too good.”

The wave rotor and 2-piston caliper does all the work in the Rattler braking as the rear drum isnt effective. The Rattler may not have the zing to hit the Interstate or large divided highways  but you can still take it out on leisurely backroads.
 The Rattlers small digital display has a speedo and bar-style tach  but the fuel gauge was our favorite aspect.The placement of the Rattlers fuel cap is hard to get to  in particular getting the key under the rear handle.
(top left, clockwise) The front wave rotor does all the heavy lifting in a lackluster braking
package; At 32 inches, the Rattler seat height is actually on the high side for a scooter;
Getting the Rattler key into the rear gas cap is tricky; The digital display is small but
shows useful info.

“The brakes on the Rattler were really kind of scary actually,” confirms a less sarcastic Robin, “especially the rear, which we adjusted way in only to become marginally better. The front was better and certainly looked cool, but I still didn’t feel like I could fully trust them to stop me in a hurry.”

Rattler build quality is okay. Not as pleasing, in our estimation, as its Genuine sibling – the Buddy Black Jack. Some may like the polished handlebar, and it does look good, but I remember it feeling cheap (or am I being hard on it because it kept banging into by knee caps…?) Then there’s the gas cap, difficult to open as it’s placed directly underneath the rear handle, so there’s no room for the key. Speaking of keys, the ignition housing is on the cheap side, too… But there we go, piling on. Hey, it’s a $2,700 scooter, not a Desmosedici!

And style-wise, the Genuine Rattler ain’t too shabby… We liked the dual headlight front, the exposed fork and wave rotor, not to mention the eye-catching rear shock and Rattler Buck Ten graphics. Its clean, stripped down feel actually looks unique in the mod/retro-styled Genuine lineup. It’s different. There’re those words again…

The Rattler works fine as a short-distance commuter or around-town errand runner... Although we dont advise riding to the tavern.
The Rattler works fine as a short-distance commuter or around-town errand runner… Though we don’t advise riding to the tavern.

Other positives on the Rattler include its competitive $2,699 price tag (although comparable-displacement scooters from KYMCO cost less) and light weight, at 216 lbs tank full (85 front, 132 rear). The digital display provides useful info, like a fuel gauge and tach. And even though we griped about filling the fuel tank, our single day of riding netted a 70 mpg efficiency – not quite up to the 90 mpg spec-sheet claim but nothing to scoff at either.

The Rattler is also open for a plethora of mods, including windscreen and top case. In fact, the owner of the dealership we borrowed our test unit from, Bike Barn, kitted out his personal Rattler with performance mods to be a wheelie-capable little monster.

So, while it seemed like 2-strokes were dead a couple years ago, they’ve made their low-key return. And while it has its quirks, the Genuine Rattler figures to keep that 2-stroke smoke blowing for at least a couple more years. It’s an intriguing option in the scooter market – and like we said, it’s different.

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